Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is not going to stay silent during the Catholic Church’s most recent and ongoing crisis. According to several reports published late last night, he has drafted a 6,000-word document which he intends to publish in Klerusblatt, a monthly periodical for clergy in Bavarian dioceses. An English-language version was sent to various media outlets. Both Rusty Reno and Sohrab Ahmari have written concise analyses of the document at First Things and the New York Post.
The document, which we have read in its entirety, is divided into three parts, as Benedict XVI explains in a short preamble: first, there is a brief look back at the “egregious event” of the 1960s and its toxic legacy; second, there is some discussion of the impact of that event on the formation of priests because of the collapse of “normative standards regarding sexuality”; and third, some thoughts about the Church’s possible response.
Described not entirely inaccurately by Ahmari as a “post retirement encyclical”, the document includes such statements as:
The matter begins with the state-prescribed and supported introduction of children and youths into the nature of sexuality.
Among the freedoms that the Revolution of 1968 sought to fight for was this all-out sexual freedom, one which no longer conceded any norms.
Part of the physiognomy of the Revolution of ‘68 was that pedophilia was then also diagnosed as allowed and appropriate.
Catholic moral theology suffered a collapse that rendered the Church defenseless against these changes in society.
There are values which must never be abandoned for a greater value and even surpass the preservation of physical life. There is martyrdom. God is (about) more than mere physical survival. A life that would be bought by the denial of God, a life that is based on a final lie, is a non-life.
Faith is a journey and a way of life. In the old Church, the catechumenate was created as a habitat against an increasingly demoralized culture, in which the distinctive and fresh aspects of the Christian way of life were practiced and at the same time protected from the common way of life. I think that even today something like catechumenal communities are necessary so that Christian life can assert itself in its own way.
Read the English-language translation of the document in its entirety here.